Lumiere is a book of contradictions: at once both wonderfully imagined but also frustratingly cliched, with very unique characters who unfortunately act like romance novel stereotypes. In the end, what we have is a book that is all surface gloss: pretty in appearances but completely lacking a spark of originality (or logic) underneath.
Story: Teen Eyelet and her mother are walking a precarious line: her father dead, his secrets sought by many, and her mother watched closely. When her mother is accused of witchcraft, Eyelet flees into the dangerous countryside. Saved by a boy with a good heart but ‘monster-like’ countenance, they will plan to find Eyelet’s father’s greatest invention – a device that would finally cure her seizures and save her from accusations of devil possession.
The imagination that went into the world building is quite amazing. From all kinds of wondrous inventions, a great catastrophe, desperate outlaws, brain sucking ghosts, circuses and freaks, and mysterious missing lands – it was all quite engrossing. Heck, our hero was even interesting looking – an albino with a marked face and definitely a beta male attitude. But then we get to know the characters better and it all falls apart quickly.
I found I didn’t like anyone in the book or even feel that Eyelet or hero Urlick were believable. The book felt very ‘written’ – plotted out but then the author got lost in the moments when writing – forgetting the big picture. E.g., right from the beginning, from Eyelet quickly forgetting losing her mother and needing to find her father’s machine – to doing foolhardy after foolhardy thing at Urlick’s despite danger, warnings, and common sense. All alone in the world? No problem, she’s not affected. Her father’s machine? She’ll get to it when she feels like it after she’s violated most of Urlick’s house – the only sanctuary she has at the moment. She pretty much forgets everything, all the impetus and danger, from the first part of the book.
And as for Urlick? Lovesick puppy is hardly endearing – especially when the love interesting is annoying, has no redeeming qualities, and makes life difficult. Were I him, I’d have chucked her out into the vapours to get her brain munched on by the ghosts. The only reason for his interest is purely on appearances – yet another YA insta-luv scenario.
Similarly, side characters are cardboard – even the villain is your standard mustache-twirling, megalomaniac who antagonizes the one person with the answer he needs – and then doesn’t shoot her because then he can make a grand entrance and spout out all his nefarious plans while holding our heroine at gunpoint.Which, of course, she’ll escape. Because, seriously, killing her immediately and taking the device makes for a less interesting read, write? Again, the book felt overwritten.
So much just didn’t make sense. At the point where our heroine/hero nearly die getting to a place, yet the villain waltzes in no problem, I began to skim. I just couldn’t shut my brain off enough to enjoy this as popcorn. Especially when the world building promised so much.
I rating this a generous three stars. For me, there were too many logic holes and very unlikable/illogical characters. Other readers may be less demanding, though, and can enjoy it on a fun little gothic surface level steampunky type alternate universe YA read. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.